Most Arizonans know that the state has experienced rapid growth over the past several decades. With 1.1 million students, Arizona’s public school population was the 13th largest in the nation in 2015, the most recent year reported.

But just how quickly have student populations risen, relative to other states?

We found that Arizona’s K-12 public school population more than doubled from 1987 to 2015, according to recently released data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Only Nevada saw a larger percentage gain in students during that time period, while the nation as a whole experienced a 27 percent growth in its K-12 student population.

The table shows the top five states in terms of relative growth, along with the national totals. Click on the bar graph for a better view of each of the 50 states, and Washington D.C.

Public School Student Population Growth: Top Five

Public School Student Population Growth Since 1987: All 50 States


Most of Arizona’s growth occurred from 1987 to 2006, a nearly twenty year span when the state averaged a 3.6% annual gain in student population. Since then, the student population has remained stable at around 1.1 million students.

The visualization below shows a year-by-year look at how student populations have grown in each state. Use the “Year” filter on the right to toggle through various years and see how the student population ascended or declined in a given state that year. For best results, click the “full screen” icon at the bottom right of the tool.


Footnotes and References

Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD)

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